Projected to emerge as an integral part of an improved Cincinnati Reds club that hopes to contend in the National League Central this season, Jesse Winker’s first full year in the minors was spent at Dayton in 2013. Winker is the newest addition on the list of “20 Greatest Dragons.”
The player recognition is part of the organization’s 20th Season Celebration. Players selected on the list of 20 are being announced in random order leading up to the Dragons 20th Opening Night game on Thursday, April 4 against the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
In 2013, Winker was the youngest hitter on the team’s Opening Night roster. He opened that season in Dayton after being drafted in the supplemental first round the previous June out of Olympia High School in the Orlando area.
Winker wasted no time becoming acclimated to Midwest League pitching. He won the Dragons Batter of the Month award in each of his first two months with the team. Winker was a starting left fielder in the 2013 Midwest League All-Star Game played in Dayton and won the Home Run Derby prior to the game. He finished the year batting .281 with 16 home runs and 76 runs batted in, leading the team in homers, slugging percentage, and runs scored. His efforts earned the Reds Minor League Hitter of the Year award.
Winker made his MLB debut with the Reds in 2017 at the age of 23. In 2018, he was a candidate for the National League Rookie of the Year award before a shoulder injury ended his season in late July. He led the Major Leagues in batting in July, and he hit .420 over the last 27 games he played in starting June 20. Over his two seasons with Cincinnati, Winker has batted a combined .299 with 14 home runs in 136 games, posting a career OPS of an outstanding .857. Winker’s future as a big league player holds exceptional potential.
Winker is the 11th player announced among the 20 Greatest Dragons. Austin Kearns, Zack Cozart, Justin Turner, Homer Bailey, Samone Peters, Devin Mesoraco, Didi Gregorius, Tucker Barnhart, Todd Frazier, and Wily Mo Peña were previously announced.
The 20 Greatest Dragons were selected based on a media vote of Dragons television, newspaper, radio, and internet reporters. Additionally, during the 2019 season, the Dragons will be conducting a fan vote featuring one player per position to announce their all-time greatest lineup.
The Dragons will host their “20th Season Celebration Game” on Saturday, March 30 at 2:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field. The game will match the 2019 Dragons (“Team 20”) against a team of Dragons alumni who are still playing in the Cincinnati Reds minor league system.
Additional information on the Dragons 20th Season celebration including videos on the 20 Greatest Dragons, special 20th Season merchandise, and Dragons alumni listings is available here: https://www.milb.com/dayton/team/20.